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When LAPD detective David Laine first encounters hunky party boy Chris Bellamere, it is to interrogate him about the murder of one of Chris's many sexual conquests. When Chris's efforts to prove his own innocence mark him as a victim, David steps in to save him, and finds himself falling in love with a man who might be a brutal murderer. P.A. Brown's debut is a gritty mystery set in LA's edgy, less glamorous East Side, where gangs co-mingle with gays, gunfire is heard after dark, and where a gay cop like David Laine could live undetected. At least until now.
Oh yowza, P.A. Brown is my new BFA (best favorite author). I make no bones about the fact that my favorite genre is mystery/suspense and when someone gets it right in that area, I’m having whodunit orgasms. P.A. Brown not only gets it right, but as a debut detective novel, L.A. Heat is a very sophisticated, well thought out, intense and skillfully written book. Plus, there’s a juicy romance involved between two complex and diametrically opposite characters.
Chris is a young man who has it all: good looking, great job in IT making loads of money, luxury car, and he’s a player whom guys want. He’s not looking to settle down but keep up his life of good times, trolling for guys in bars and keeping it fun and light. Unfortunately for him, he just happens to know and has been with a few victims of a serial killer who is brutally killing gay men and he becomes the lead suspect in the police investigation.
David is an older police detective who is so deep in the closet that even if the door opens light won’t reach him. He takes care of his needs once in a while on vacations to places no one he knows would find him. He lives alone in a small, plain but neat house and leads a quiet life. He’s also got a work partner who is homophobic and makes every effort to bash gays with derogatory language on a regular basis. So David is in no hurry to come out of the closet.
When David meets Chris though, he finds himself very attracted but dismisses any thought of possibly getting together because they are two different people from two different worlds and, well, he’s a suspect and that’s a no-no. But he admires that Chris is so out there and open with who he is. Chris feels this and puts out feelers, which David picks up on. Even though Chris is still under investigation, David finds himself going to Chris even though Chris is potentially the killer.
My strongest feeling about this book was “well done, brilliant!” Not only does the investigation unfold in a meticulous and cryptic way in which it’s virtually impossible to figure out who the killer is, but the world in which this happens is very graphic, gritty and real as well, especially the gay world depicted.
I thought that P.A. Brown wrote very intriguing and complex characters. The constant issues: harassment, random trolling for sexual encounters, lifestyle, bigoted ideas these characters had to deal with were very realistically written. She really captures the essence of all the characters, what they go through, feel, and how it affects them in a very vivid way.
The way the relationship between David and Chris unfolds is also very nicely written. Chris sees something in David that really attracts him even though David is so not his type and he goes from being a steadfast player to really wanting something deeper in this story. And David decides to take some big steps outside of his comfort zone because of his feelings for Chris. The tension involved in David not quite being sure if Chris is the killer or not kept that part of the story on the edge as well.
That backdrop of constant homophobia and bigotry as well as the whole gay scene was very realistically written and didn’t come across to me as pushing any social agenda, which can happen and which I don’t like often. In this case it really added to the story and created lots of internal and external conflict, much like how I imagine it would really go down.
For those who want some hawt m/m smexin, this book doesn’t have it. But it’s still a juicy romance anyway and made me feel warm and fuzzy all over, in a cool sort of way.
I saw that Chris and David are back in a new novella by P.A. Brown and I can’t wait to get on it. If this is a first book, with this kind of writing and story telling quality, I can’t wait to see what P.A. Brown writes from now on.
Sex rating: Granny panties- no graphic sex in this story, but lots a alluding.